Things You Might Not Know About Love

1. It can be hard to talk about love in scientific terms because people have strong pre-existing ideas about it–Love is not romance. It’s not sexual desire. It’s not even that special bond you feel with family or significant others. And most challenging of all, love is neither lasting nor unconditional. Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another.

2. Love is not exclusive–We tend to think of love in the same breath as loved ones. When that means only your innermost circle of family and friends, you take away a lot of opportunities for health, growth and well-being. In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone. As long as you feel safe and can make the right connection, the conditions for experiencing the emotion of love are in place.

3. Love doesn’t belong to one person–We tend to think of emotions as private events, confined to one person’s mind and skin. Research has shown that when you really “click” with someone else, a momentary “synchrony” happens where biochemistries and neural firings mirror each other in a pattern. Love is a biological wave of good feeling that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once.

4. Making eye contact is a key gateway for love–Your body has the built-in ability to “catch” the emotions of people around you. You can also sabotage that natural ability if you don’t make eye contact with the other person. Meeting eyes is a key gatekeeper “synchrony”.

5. Love fortifies the connection between your brain and your heart, making you healthier–Research shows that people who are more socially connected live longer and healthier lives. When people learn to create more “micro-moments” of love, they improve a function in the body that connects the brain to the heart.

6. Your immune cells reflect your past experiences of love—The ways that your genes get expressed depends on a lot of factors, including whether you consider yourself to be socially connected or lonely.

7. Small emotional moments can have large biological effects–It can seem surprising that an experience that lasts just a micro-moment can have a lasting effect on your health. But there’s also a “feedback loop” at work that creates an upward spiral between your social and your physical well-being. That means your micro-moments of love not only make you healthier, but being healthier builds your capacity for love. Little by little, love conquers love by improving your health. And health conquers health by improving your capacity for love.

8. Don’t take a loving marriage for granted—Marriage is a bond of the many micro-moments that a husband and wife share over the years.

9. Love and compassion can be one and the same–If we reimagine love as micro-moments of shared positivity, it can seem like love requires that you always feel happy. This isn’t true. You can experience a micro-moment of love even as you or the person you connect with suffers. Love requires that some element of kindness, empathy or appreciation is added to the mix. Compassion is the form love takes when suffering happens.

10. Simply upgrading your view of love changes your capacity for it–When people take just a minute or so each day to think about whether they felt connected to others, they create benefits for themselves.